RD568 - Report in Response to SB 1172 to Establish a Passport Nursing Program – Virginia Community College System Academic and Workforce Program Unit – October 31, 2023

Executive Summary:

Senate Bill 1172, an Act to require the Virginia Community College System to establish a standardized core curriculum for all registered nursing (RN) degree or diploma programs in the Commonwealth, the Passport Nursing Program, was approved by Governor Youngkin March 22, 2023. This act directs the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), in collaboration with the Board of Nursing, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the Virginia Nurses Association and other relevant stakeholders, to “convene a work group, consisting of representatives from the Virginia Community College System, SCHEV, the Board of Nursing, the Virginia Nurses Association, for-profit and private not-for-profit institutions offering registered nursing (RN) education and diploma programs, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA), and Radford University’s Nursing Competency Accelerated Pathway (NCAP) program, to develop a system for the standardization of all RN education and diploma programs offered in the Commonwealth, to be called the Passport Nursing Program." The work group must submit its report to the Governor, the Chairman of the House Committee on Education, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education and Health, and the Board of Nursing no later than November 1, 2023 (Appendix 1, p. 13).

In response, the VCCS collaborated with representatives of Virginia Board of Nursing (VBON) and SCHEV to identify representatives of all Associate Degree in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and prelicensure Master of Nursing programs across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Representatives of each Nursing program, along with representatives from SCHEV, the Virginia Nurses Association, the VHHA, and Radford University’s NCAP program were emailed on June 13, 2023 to invite them (Appendix 2, p. 14) to attend a meeting to discuss the curriculum for registered nurses in Virginia. Those who did not respond to the email were contacted a second time. As shown in the same appendix, a few invitees did not respond, a few responded that they would not attend, and a few who planned to attend were unable to do so but provided input via phone and email. In addition, the Virginia Association of Colleges of Nursing submitted a letter sharing the association’s concerns and outlining several recommendations (Appendix 9, p. 55).

On July 13, 2023, representatives from the VCCS, VBON, Virginia Nurses Association, VHHA member hospitals, and SCHEV met with representatives from nursing programs at hospitals, colleges, and universities across the Commonwealth of Virginia for a total of 32 participants (Appendix 3, p. 17). VCCS, SCHEV, and VBON representatives provided participants with an overview of SB 1172 (Appendix 4, p. 19). Working in small groups to which representatives of different types of institutions were assigned (Appendix 5, p. 21), participants discussed seven questions (Appendix 6, p. 22) addressing lines 20-29 of legislation SB 1172. Each group reported a summary of their responses orally and submitted their meeting notes and answers to the questions to the VCCS representatives to assist with this report. To conclude the meeting, the group formulated a set of recommendations aimed at increasing the supply of registered nurses in Virginia. In addition, several work group members submitted their curricula which were used as a representative sample of nursing curricula from which to draw information on clinical hours and total credit hours required (Appendix 7, p. 38).

The representative curricula reviewed include the core content required by the Virginia Board of Nursing as specified in Administrative Code. As all registered nursing program graduates must pass the same exam, the NCLEX-RN, to be granted a license as a Registered Nurse, those present agreed that although their curricula differ, they all prepare students with the same required knowledge and skills. However, participants were unable to reach an agreement on standardization of admissions, courses and course sequences, or course delivery for all RN education programs offered in the Commonwealth. Participants strongly recommended that nursing programs be allowed to retain their curricula and policies in order to serve different student populations, thereby keeping the pool of prospective nurses as broad as possible. The work group expressed concern that requiring uniformity across all nursing programs would unfairly disadvantage some student populations and some regions. While a common curriculum was not agreed upon, representatives developed a set of recommendations to potentially increase the number of Registered Nurses in Virginia. These fall into two broad categories: recommendations related to curriculum and delivery of nursing education and recommendations for recruiting and retaining nurses and nurse educators.

Although participants did not agree to a common curriculum or a strategy for developing a common curriculum, they expressed great appreciation for the opportunity to meet that this legislation prompted. Before this convening, participants from these diverse institutions and organizations had never met as a group. Nursing program representatives, including some who could not attend the meeting agreed that convening the group was very worthwhile and should be repeated periodically.